Are You Losing Customers?

Are you so successful that you can afford to lose good, long-term customers?  Most of us want to retain customers and continue to provide value for them.  But  inflexible policies and procedures can cost you business.

dreamstime_s_43391176Let me share a story.  I recently moved from Florida to California.  I notified my banks, the IRS, my credit card companies, etc.   All transferred me over to the new address except one- a gas company.  I had been their customer for 26 years. That's a long time. I typically spent $4000 a year with them, including some $500 moving across country

And they would not allow me to change my address.  I called and they said I needed to provide proof of the move in writing,  Which I did- to no avail.  They continued to send bills to the old address, where anyone could see my credit card number and use it. (Most companies no longer put account numbers on bills for this very reason.)  They were not concerned about that kind of fraud; I was.

They refused to accept the proof I sent them. They wanted something from the Secretary of State of California. They were absolutely rigid and unyielding. And so I cancelled my card.  They lost a 26 year customer over a policy.

It's the exact opposite of how a customer-focused organization like the Ritz Carlton operates.  As I understand it, every employee is empowered to fix a customer problem up to $200.  Above that, they can go higher and seek assistance for the guest.

That's how you keep long-term customers.  Think about your policies and the way you do business.  Could some added flexibility enhance relationships?

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©2016, Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. You may share this post and reprint with author reference and copyright.

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The NO, NO, NO Woman

man yell into phoneLRRecently, I was shopping at a retail store which had a big sale.  (This was a week before Black Friday.) I had half an hour before my meeting and zipped in, found what I wanted and stood in a looonnnng line where only two cashiers were working. (Personal pet peeve- when you have a sale, staff up for it.)

While I was waiting, a woman was trying to return some pastry making items.  Very loudly, this older cashier said, "These caps don't have a safety seal. " The customer replied "They never had and they have not been opened." The NO, NO, NO Woman said, "I have to call my supervisor," which she did very loudly and said "This lady is returning pastry items with no safety seal.  Can we take them back?"  Want to guess what her boss said?

No. And then the NO, NO, NO woman proceeded to humiliate the poor customer further by shouting out- "No, we can't take this back."

The whole thing was completely unnecessary.  And unpleasant!  And time consuming.  I never did get to buy those items that morning, as the time exceeded what I had allotted before my meeting.

Lessons here:  Never put NO, NO, NO people in customer service.  NEVER humiliate the customer.  Don't sell products that can't be returned unless you notify people.  And find some YES employees.  Is it any wonder why some retailers are in trouble?????

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©2014 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. You may share this post and reprint with author reference and copyright.

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Easiest Way to Make More Money

 

Businessmen HandshakeOne of the most important dimensions of any marketing plan should be customer retention. The best way to keep your business healthy and keep your business growing is to take excellent care of your existing customers.  They are your best source of referrals and future work.

Even if the primary work you have done for them has been completed, check in regularly- at least once every 4-6 weeks.  Educate your customers, send them articles, post information on your web site, send out ezines, stay connected through social media. Have lunch when you can.  Send them greeting cards. Be a constant resource for them.

Let them know you value you them. Always thank them for referrals- write personal notes and let them know how much you appreciate their business.

Never, ever, take them for granted.

 

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©2014 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. You may share this post and reprint with author reference and copyright.

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5 Ways to Fire Up Your Sales

Ignite Your Sales with These Quick Tips 

Never push a prospect- add value.

Never force or manipulate- demonstrate listening and caring.

Businessmen Handshake1.Truly listen to your customers
Everyone wants to be heard, and appreciated. Ask what their needs and concerns are, find out what successes they have had, focus on them and do whatever you can to help, even if it means you don't get the sale, this time.  Be a valued resource and trusted advisor.

2. Use stories and customer testimonials -   Give examples of real people who have had a problem you solved. Tell the truth. And use customer testimonials to back up your stories. Always get written permission.  Here's an example from one of my speaking programs: "Snowden McFall, may I personally say what a fabulous speaker you are. We all enjoyed your keynote speech. Productivity is certainly the topic of the decade. Thank you from the bottom of my heart." Mary Fisher - I asked her permission to use and she said absolutely.

3. WIFT Always focus on the benefits to that particular customer.  What is in it for them?  Why choose you over all the other competitors out there?  Demonstrate you understand their needs, fears and pain points and show you have
proven solutions for them.

4. Overcome objections by raising them yourself.
You know what the push-back is.  Overcome it by demonstrating why the objection is not valid, or how you have resolved it.  Show you think like they do.

5. Have genuine enthusiasm for your products or service. Nothing sells like genuine enthusiasm- it is rare and it is contagious.  Get Fired Up! about what you are sharing and keep that top of mind. Your Fire will spread and ignite theirs.

 

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Good Customer Service- NOT

AT & T Did Not Make This Customer Happy

Screaming man who is very stressed outHave you ever had the experience of dealing with someone where you just could not get anywhere and you were incredibly frustrated, maybe even furious? Enter AT&T business, whom I have used for decades.  When we moved to Florida , I set up my business account with them. In the spring, my plan expired.  I was exploring savings options and called them to see what they could do on pricing.

They quoted me one price, but when I got the bill, it was much higher. I called and inquired if there was some mistake and they said no, and that was the bill.

So I explored other options and found I could dave over $65 a month with Comcast, bundling my services.  I called and canceled my AT & T service.

And then I got my bill.  At & T actually charged me $165 for canceling service. They said we had a "verbal agreement" which they refused to produce for me.  I never would have agreed to a cancellation fee when I was still exploring options. I explained all this and got NOWHERE.  ARGGGHH.

As a thirty year small business owner, I certainly would not treat my clients the way I was treated. There was no flexibility, no opportunity to do anything else.

And what they don't realize is that as a professional speaker, I encounter thousands of people in my audiences.  I love sharing great customer service stories.  And unfortunately, this is an example of a bad one.

When something like that happens to you, one of the best ways to deal with it is go work out.  Exerting your frustration on a punching bag or by running, biking, swimming or some other physical outlet makes you feel better.  You're doing something good for yourself and releasing the negativity of the experience.

How about you?  Ever had a bad experience with your telephone or Internet provider?Email me at orders@firedupnow.com.  I look forward to hearing from you.

 

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©2013 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. No duplication or reprinting without permission and author reference

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A Good Customer Service Story

All it Takes is Kindness and Attention

Thank you notes keep employees Fired Up!

A few weeks ago, between appointments, I ran into Dillards to return something and stopped by the Estee Lauder counter.  Surprisingly, I had a delightful time.  Karen greeted me warmly, inquired as to my needs and then went a step further. She got to know me. She observed I had bought some new suits, and I explained I was a professional speaker. We had a great conversation about stress, and she said, "Let me check your previous sales slip." Seems I was entitled to a 10% discount that had not been taken by the other salesperson. She voided out everything, reentered it and saved me over $20 on a variety of purchases.  She took my name and contact info for future sales, and gave me a card.  It was a wonderful experience.  She demonstrated a personal interest, valued me, made my shopping more positive and memorable. That's what I call customer service. How are you doing that for your customers?

©2012 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved.  No duplication or reprinting without permission and author reference

Why is Good Customer Service So Rare?

Ok- I admit it- I'm frustrated.  Very frustrated.  I have dealt with many vendors including phone companies, insurance companies, and banks this week who seem like they could care less about their customers.  They don't return phone calls, they change your plan without your permission, they start charging you fees out of the blue because they want to and they really don't care if you are unhappy.  They break agreements, lie to you and then consider this acceptable.  This is not the way to run a business.

You and I both know that if we treated my customers and clients the way I have been treated this week, we would be out of business. In my speeches and trainings, we focus on adding value to the customer, delighting them, giving them so much more than they expect.  Often what happens is they become viral advocates for your business and tell others how great you are.  But that's not the reason to do it.  The reason to do it is because that's the way to do smart business- to provide quality, excellence and added value.  That's how you stay in business.

Maybe one of these days conglomerates will start to understand that- as their customers leave in droves.  I am certainly thinking about it.

How about you?  Any great customer service stories?

 ©2011 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. No duplication 
or reprinting without permission and author reference

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Fire Up Your Marketing with Genuine Testimonials

 Use Longer, Meaningful Testimonials for Impact

We've all seen the phony sounding TV commercials with hackneyed phrases that don't ring true. That is not good advertising. It turns us off. What is highly effective is the use of authentic customer testimonials which are highly specific about the value received.

At Brightwork, my ad agency,  we regularly call our clients' customers to ask them the right questions to ascertain this value. . That often will yield powerfulmarketing information that the client was not even aware of.   Then we get written permission from the customer to use the testimonial in all marketing for the client, noting that no compensation will be provided for this usage.  That legal document can be important. Real testimonial quotes like these can make a substantive difference in your Internet presence, brochures, direct mailers and websites.

Consider this one, for example:

Fired Up sales person"I've worked with a dozen realtors and Sue Bird is by far the best.  She constantly stayed on top of every detail in our deal... She saw the entire transaction through from start to finish...even staying in touch after the sale tobe sure I was satisfied.  In a day when incompetence is rampant, Sue is refreshing.  Her confidence and knowledge made me feel comfortable.  She has great expertise and I will definitely use her again." Dan O'Brien

Some people think short one liner testimonials are better- such as 'Sue did a great job."  I disagree.  Meaningful testimonials which speak to value received are much more powerful.  Consider this with your marketing- and here's a tip- have someone else interview your clients.  It's difficultto do this effectively for yourself.

 

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 ©2011 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. No duplication 
or reprinting without permission and author reference.

Fire Up Your Communication with Clarification

Shaking hands after disagreement to relieve stressMinimize the Stress of Conflict with Better Communication

So often when colleagues are disagreeing with each other, they rarely listen to what the other is saying. In today's world, we are all so busy, it's rare that people give each other their undivided attention.  To help diffuse a potentially volatile situation, do the following:

• turn off phones & beepers and give total eye contact to the other person

• be sure you understand exactly what the other person is saying. Rarely do we truly hear the message the first time.  If you are unclear, own it.  Say "I want to make sure I understand your perspective.  Could you please restate it in another way for me?"

That action alone will disarm someone, because they realize you truly want to hear them. We all have that basic need. Most people are delighted to elaborate on their viewpoint.

• While listening, if you find yourself getting more and more agitated, stop the conversation and clarify again, respectfully, carefully.  You could use phrases like:  "Can you elaborate more on that?  Please say more about____."

Each time you do this, you honor the other person, you cool down and you actually clarify their viewpoint. You might also learn something new.  And best of all, you have diffused a potentially volatile situation that might have led to unpleasant working relationships. Listening well is key to good communication.

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 ©2011 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. No  duplication 
or reprinting without permission and author reference.

Fire Up! Your Business Standards

You Do Have the Power to Stop Negative Behavior

No matter what kind of professional you are, CEO, executive, business owner, doctor, lawyer, manager, you have the right and indeed, the responsibility, to set standards for your workplace.  Many fields have set standards already, from healthcare to law.  However you can go further.  You can set standards of excellence in work, but also standards in behavior and performance.

I was recently told, when discussing negative behavior of a high level professional, that "That's just how they are."  I simply don't accept that.

Screaming man who is very stressed outNo matter what level you're at, you are subject to behavioral standards and employment law experts agree.  It's very easy to build an "attitude, behavior and professional conduct" clause right into your policy manual and your employment contracts.  It needs to be specific and clear about what is acceptable and flexible enough to help you achieve your results.  It is not acceptable for anyone at any level to come in regularly in a bad mood, yell at the rest of the staff, complain and whine and make everyone else's day miserable.  That is unprofessional conduct and should not be tolerated.

Set the standards, put it in writing with your employment attorney, inform everyone,  and refuse to settle for anything less.  Good employees will be grateful and bad employees will leave- which is best for everyone.

 

 

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 ©2011 Snowden McFall All Rights Reserved. No duplication 
or reprinting with permission and author reference.